Microsoft Surface 3 with Docking Station Review

Using Surface 3

I’ve been using the Surface 3 for a couple of months now. I have the works – the Microsoft Surface 3 128 GB unit with 4 GB RAM, Surface 3 Type Cover, Surface Pen, and even the Surface 3 Docking Station!

Surface 3 Working

As someone who just started my own company, having a portable notebook is very important to me. The Surface 3 has basically replaced both my conventional notebook and tablet since I only need to bring this to meetings and while working on the go. It’s truly an all-in-1 device to replace your notebook, PC, and tablets.

Surface 3 Multitasking

The processing power of the Surface 3 is more than sufficient for work…

Surface 3 Games

…and play.

Heroes of the Storm

I can even run Heroes of the Storm on it! The quad core Intel Atom x7 processor inside the Surface 3 allows you to run all native Windows applications, which is the point of this device.

Surface 3 Starcraft

Think of an app you want/need to run – Photoshop, Word, or Call of Duty. The Surface 3 can run it without problems since it runs ALL Windows programs, not just a pared down app. Of course, you can still use your favorite touch apps but what’s unique about the Surface 3 is that it runs all my essential desktop software smoothly.

Surface3 Work

I frequently work at cafes where I can get my daily caffeine fix and use their WiFi to reply emails or write a proposal. I’ve often encountered conversations like these:

Stranger: OMG! Where did you download that app?
Me: It’s not an app, it’s the full program.
Stranger: What do you mean? You mean the program has been made into an app?
Me: No, this is the original desktop software.
Stranger: That’s not a tablet then? *stares at me and the device suspiciously*
Me: It’s a complete notebook – anything you can run on a PC, you can run on this.
Stranger: No way!

Surface 3 Video

They then proceed to examine my Surface 3 with great interest and dragging me into a conversation I didn’t plan for, thus undermining my work time. I think I’ve been a great evangelist for the Surface 3 though. :)

Surface 3 Review

I can use my Surface 3 as a tablet or a notebook (with the Surface 3 Type Cover). I usually require the keyboard of the Surface 3 Type Cover to work as my line of work entails doing a lot of typing and I’m just used to a physical keyboard.

Surface 3 Tablet Mode

However, tablet mode is great for reading ebooks and news – which I usually do on the porcelain throne in the morning. No worries, I haven’t dropped it so far. On a serious note, the Surface 3 Pen is really awesome too, especially if you’re using it as a tablet. I’ve already written about that in a previous post

Surface Docking Station

The Surface 3 is even more useful to me now that I have the Surface 3 Docking Station. The Surface 3 is equipped with a USB 3.0 port but I need more than that so I have to use a 4-socket USB port/extender when I come home to insert all my external hard disk drives, wireless mouse and smartphone charger/data cable.

Surface 3 Office

This is the thing that I needed to turn the Surface 3 into not just a tablet and notebook but a full-fledged PC! I can connect it to a HD LCD monitor, use the Gigabit Ethernet port for a more secure connection to my network, play music on the home speaker setup with subwoofers that I have with the audio out, and utilize the 2 x USB 3.0 and 2 x USB 2.0 ports.

Surface 3 Docking Station

The Surface 3 Docking Station is really ideal for people wanting to get the most bang for their buck and using the Surface 3 as a notebook, tablet and PC. It also automatically charges the Surface 3 when it’s docked and there’s a Mini DisplayPort video output which you can use for a larger monitor (or in our case for watching movies).

Surface 3 Movie

I’m not kidding, sometimes you download movies which has video or audio codecs which your television doesn’t support. You can use the Mini DisplayPort video output to go straight into your TV and not risk the Surface 3 from running out of battery coz it’s charging at the same time.

Surface 3 Pen Holder

There’s also a magnetic side that doubles as a nifty storage solution for the Surface pen so you don’t lose it as well as a security lock slot in the Surface 3 Docking Station, but so far I haven’t found any use for the latter. I don’t have any light-fingered friends or family but if you’re in an office environment it could be useful for you.

Surface 3 Heroes of the Storm

I’ve been very happy with the Surface 3. It’s been in use on daily basis and has replaced my notebook, tablet and PC with just one single device. It’s fast and the Surface 3 Docking Station was the final detail that allowed me to use it exclusively and relegate my old and slow PC to a cloud storage system. I only wish I can keep it coz it’s so integrated into my lifestyle now.

Behind the Scenes: Microsoft Surface 3 Official Malaysian Launch @ The Bee, Publika

Surface 3 Launch Preparations

I was lucky enough to view this entire event from behind the scenes, as I was involved in the official Malaysian launch of the Surface 3 on the 5th of May 2015. There were 4 guest presenters/speakers/influencers which were part of the event that day – 2 for Home and 2 for Office. I was part of the Office group, together with Careen, my partner.

The Bee Surface 3

The event started off quite early for us, I was there at 7:30 am for an 8 am rehearsal led by Rukmani where we ran through everything. Good thing breakfast (and most importantly coffee) was provided. Denise actually ran out and got me an iced latte – thanks for that!

Audio Ears On

I got wired up for sound before the dry run. I’ll be talking about how the Surface 3 has helped me in my life, and do a quick run-through of the things I actually do on it. I was quite proud of that fact that I was actually doing things I would actually do during the entire event, nothing was scripted.

Updating Blog

I was even replying Facebook comments at one point! I had my Surface 3 hooked up to the docking station, which allowed me to use a wireless full sized keyboard and mouse, as well as the HDMI output to Extend or Mirror the contents of my Surface 3 to the large monitor on my table.

View From Office

The Surface 3 Docking Station is capable of DVI/VGA/HDMI so it’s all covered there. I was a little worried that my personal account would be in full view on the large monitor they had setup for me on my table, but we were still alone at the time and the blinds were up.

Office Room

It had been decided in the previous meeting that the Home and Office sections will be flanking the stage and there will be full blinds/curtains to contain the scenes behind from prying eyes. We were slated to slip into the space and be in place at 1:50 pm latest.

Microsoft Surface 3 Launch Malaysia

The actual Microsoft Surface 3 Launch started at 2 pm. Thus, after lunch, we went behind the curtains and waited for our cue.

Rehearsals

Careen was slated to talk first and then I’ll go on about the flexibility of the Surface 3 – in particular how the Surface Pen allows you to write naturally while resting your wrist/palm on the screen (a very nifty feature I love) and the 4 USB and Gigabit Ethernet ports on the docking station (useful to turn your Surface 3 into a PC).

Happy Surface 3 User

I also liked how there’s a natural place to the left of the Surface 3 docking station for your Surface Pen! It’s a magnetic side which allows you to store your stylus without losing it, a very important feature when you’re transitioning from tablet/laptop mode to full PC mode.

Office Presentor Rukmani

I love little design features like this that helps make your life easier.

Personalized Mugs

The Surface 3 launch even had a place where you can get customized mugs made with your name on it!

Sixthseal Mug

I had mine done in “sixthseal.com” and “Huai Bin” in two different cups. I asked the nice people there to do the second one only if there were leftovers and they were kind enough to oblige.

Presenting Surface 3 Launch

I only have photos of me that I asked my friends to take while I was on-stage (or beside the stage, rather) and it was a great experience to talk about something which I genuinely like, for I have indeed fallen in love with the Surface 3 during my time with it.

Surface 3 Launch The Bee

It’s so useful for work and play that I miss it when I returned the Surface 3. It’s so portable, it works like a laptop (can even run Heroes of the Storm on it), and it’s silent since the quad core Intel Atom x7 can run fan-less.

Surface 3 Launch Malaysia

You can check out the Surface 3 at any large electronics store (saw it at Harvey Norman during the weekend) and see if you like it as much as I do. The Malaysian launch of the Surface 3 reveals the pricing to be RM 1,989 for the 64GB/2GB RAM version and RM 2,389 for the 128GB/4GB RAM version.

HB Careen

It’s out now, so you all have the chance to see what I’ve been so enamored with for the past few weeks.

Hands-on with the Surface 3

Surface 3 Bloggers

I was at a closed door media preview recently when I asked a rather embarrassing question.

Surface 3 Tablet

It was for the Microsoft Surface 3 and the Q&A was going on when I asked when the Surface Pro 3 was going to be released. There was a short moment of silence from the panel of speakers before two simultaneously told me – “It has already been released at the end of last year” – with a look that vaguely suggested that I was reaching new heights (or lows) of stupidity. smirk

Surface 3 Panel

The Surface Pro 3 is the more powerful and expensive brother to the Surface 3 and packs a beast of an i3/i5/i7 processor inside. I’ve been thinking which one to get and hadn’t decided yet at the time.

It got me thinking though…

Microsoft Surface 3 Rep

The truth of the matter is, people don’t actually follow gadget releases with religious fervour. Unless you’re a hardcore tech nerd, you probably wouldn’t be able to recite the latest hardware specifications. Most people only search for and read up on the latest news, releases and reviews when they’re about to make a purchase.

Surface 3 Hands On

This is where I come in. I’ve had hands-on experience with the Microsoft Surface 3 and I’ve been very impressed so far. I’ll be picking up a loan unit tomorrow for review but let me just tell you about the Surface 3 and what it’s all about first.

Surface 3 Demo

The Microsoft Surface 3 is a laptop replacement tablet that’s going to be released in the market soon. It’s a more affordable and mainstream offering compared to the Surface Pro 3 (which is more for power users) and it looks like it’s set to appeal to a wide range of users.

Writing Surface 3

There are a couple of new features in the latest Surface – the Surface 3 is the thinnest and lightest Surface ever! It just weighs a mere 622 grams. I was surprised when I picked it up, this is definitely lighter than I thought a tablet that works like a laptop would be.

Surface 3 Screen

Most importantly, it has a full-size USB 3.0! This allows you to connect a wide range of accessories and it’s what (for me) makes a tablet transcend into laptop functionality. You can plug in stuff like external hard disk drives for increased storage, your smartphone to transfer files (if you’re not using your own WiFi to sync), or even something as essential as a mouse!

(although I would highly recommend using a Bluetooth mouse instead of taking up the USB 3.0 slot, unless you plan on getting the docking station or a USB extender)

Surface 3 Excel

Also, Surface 3 runs all your Windows desktop software so you can use it just like a PC or notebook! That means you can use Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and all other desktop programs instead of relying on apps alone. That’s the beauty of the Surface 3 – you can run the app versions when you’re using it as a tablet, but for some essential software, you have the capability to install and execute it like you would on a normal computer.

Surface 3 Pen

The stylus is a thing of magic too – you can click it once to wake the tablet from sleep and double click it to automatically screencap what’s running and open it in OneNote (a feature I’ve found immensely useful in blogging and writing reviews).

Surface 3 Camera

There’s also an 8 MP 1080p rear-facing camera with auto-focus and a 3.5 MP 1080p front-facing camera.

Here are the specs for the Surface 3:

Surface 3 Specs

This is one tablet-laptop hybrid that looks poised to take the world by storm.

Surface 3 Blog

It’s the first Surface to have an Intel processor so you can run all Windows software, it’s the first to forgo the proprietary charging system in favor for a widely compatible micro-USB port so you can use it with your existing car and portable chargers, and it comes with an optional docking station to complete the PC experience.

Surface 3

Head over to the Microsoft Surface 3 microsite to pre-order your Surface 3 now! If you’re looking for a new tablet that has the functionality of a laptop, look no further – you know you want it. I’m really excited about this – the Microsoft Surface 3 has been hailed as a revolutionary change and it really lives up to the hype.

Surface RT Launch Party

surface booth babes

It’s finally here! I had a sneak peak at the ultra-light Microsoft Surface RT during the Windows 8 launch in Singapore last year and was very impressed by it. It’s a thin, sleek and amazingly crafted device functions and both a tablet and laptop!

surface rt launch party

The Surface RT Launch Party was held in Publika on the 25th of April.

microsoft surface

There was a lot of people lining up to be the first in Malaysia to own one of these babies.

tablet made into skateboard

There’s even a custom-built skateboard from a Microsoft Surface device! Carlos Lacerda, the Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia came on stage on one of these to deliver his speech.

tablet skateboard

They basically turned a Surface into a skateboard. Check it out! It’s incredible! :)

elecoldxhot

There was also a performance by a dance crew Elecoldxhot featuring Surface devices. I’ve seen them before and they really hyped up the crowd at the launch.

danny ong

Danny Ong, the Chief Marketing and Operations Officer gave a demonstration of the capabilities of the Surface RT device.

mizz nina surface launch

Mizz Nina also came on-stage to do an impressive choreographed song and dance routine.

mizz nina windows surface

She is also an early adopter of the Surface and told us how using it has allowed her to write songs, review contracts and proposals while keeping in touch with her fans on social media and playing games at the same time!

surface launch

Everyone had a chance to check out the Surface in detail at the demonstration booths all around. It’s really quite impressive and loaded with cool features!

Full size USB port
There’s a full size USB port on the Surface (as in the tablet, not the top – lame joke) which allows you to connect to all sorts of devices. You can plug in anything from a thumb drive to external card readers for your digital camera memory card.
MicroSD slot
The Surface also has a microSD slot so you can expand the memory of the device or transfer files. It’s a feature that is lacking in a lot of other tablets, and a very important one.
HD video-out
It also had a HD video-out port so you can connect it to a large screen television to to show off your vacation photos at home to friends or present a slideshow during a business meeting. It’s the ports on the Surface that makes it so versatile.

surface rt

Touch Cover / Type Cover
There are two options for the Surface device:

  • Touch Cover comes in five vibrant colors and comes with a slim, spill-resistant keyboard
  • Type Cover combines the speed and comfort of a classic keyboard with a super-thin classic keyboard

Unlike other tablets which are not designed to be a hybrid, the Surface does not require third party or aftermarket keyboards to turn it into a notebook. The laptop functionality is built natively into the tablet – the two types of covers comes with an magnetically attached keyboard! There’s a kickstand on the tablet that allows you to use it like how you’ll use a regular laptop.

surface office apps

Surface starts at RM 1,549 and comes with Windows RT – a touch operating system that allows you to have the full Windows experience that you’re used to. There’s Live Tiles and you can download the apps you want from Windows Store. Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT is also included so you can get all your work done as you would with a regular laptop! I was really impressed by it.

surface skateboard

(and also the Surface tablet custom made into a skateboard)

surface owners

Serious. Fun. Starts. Meet Surface.

8 features I love about Windows 8

windows 8

Yup, I’ve installed Windows 8 to replace the Windows 7 Home Premium Edition I’m running on my main workhorse.

windows versions

I’ve upgraded my notebook several times in terms on hardware (RAM, HDD etc) and I’m always excited when a new OS comes out. Windows 8 Pro 64-bit (my notebook runs 64 bit natively, though there’s a 32-bit version of Windows 8) has a lot of things that I like and having spent a couple of weeks with it, I’ve managed to single out 8 features that I love.

windows 8 install

It’s hard to go with just 8 since there are a lot of new additions to enrich your experience. Some are essential and some are just stuff that are just plain fun.

I write a lot, love to travel and have been blogging since April 2002 so I’ll keep my experiences on that personal level.

1. Start Screen

This is the much anticipated feature (in addition to Live Tiles) of Windows 8 and it takes some getting used to, but there’s no going back after that.

windows 8 start

This displays my most commonly used apps and I can see various messages flood in via Live Tiles in the People and Messaging apps, which I use the most. This way, I just have to synchronize my email, Facebook, Twitter, IM clients and it’ll all be integrated into one place.

I like to travel pretty randomly (without any plans and flying by the seat of my pants) and this feature allows me to just see what’s going on in Travel, check the Wikipedia app (stating local customs and faux pas e.g. not eating the doughy tops of khinkali, a type of Georgian dumpling and also pronunciation), pull out Internet Explorer 10 for bus/train schedules and all that while talking to people who’re there so I can maybe couchsurf.

That’s taking “keeping in touch” to a whole new level.

2. Enhanced Search

I love this feature coz it’s perfect for lazy people like me. Heh.

windows 8 search

Just type anything directly from the Start Screen and it’ll appear. I typed “Sky” in this case and SkyDrive pops up as one of the features so I don’t have to go rooting about for it. It’s really a time saver.

I can also expand the search to various areas (which is customizable) for it to trawl anything from Windows Store to the entire Internet. Nifty, this one, and handy for finding facts online by just starting to type on the Start Screen.

3. Snap apps

This is a godsend for blogging!

windows 8 blogging

Just hover your mouse to the left and out pops a list of currently running apps. You can actually drag one of those apps out so you have two apps on your screen. This can be resized as you wish so I can dedicate 3/4 of my screen to Photoshop for photo editing and the other 1/4 to WordPress on IE 10 to add the photos to my blog or reply comments.

…and yes, both of the apps work at the same time. :D

4. Easy Screenshots

This is just amazing and it’s how I took most of the screenshots you see in this post. Windows 8 nullifies the need for external apps or the old method of Alt+Print Screen -> Open Paint -> Ctrl+V to take and paste a screenshot.

windows 8 pro

Now I just have to press Win+Print Screen.

It takes the entire screen and automatically saves it in the Pictures folder. You can also use Alt to take the current window but the shortcut where you can just automatically screenshot the entire screen is a lifesaver (or at least a time saver) to me – I do it a lot when blogging, writing and emailing someone about a travel deal. :)

5. Picture Password

This is one of the things which I’ll put under fun to use. Heh.

picturepassword

You can choose your best vacation/clubbing/adventure photos as a Picture Password and draw gestures around it to enter your computer. It not only acts as a password, it also shows my favorite photo while I’m logged out.

6. Windows Store

You can download a lot of free and paid games and apps in here – anything from Angry Birds to Wikipedia. I also found a fun and free game called Ball Strike when I was in Singapore courtesy of Jim Saret (of Biggest Loser Philippines fame).

windows store

It just requires a Windows 8 device with a camera – which is common enough, even my older notebook has a built-in webcam. This is an augmented reality game that gives me a bit of exercise while I’m at home.

I can see it being a hugely popular house party game too. Heh.

7. Charms Bar

This is the uber sidebar that allows you access to everything from the classic Desktop that traditional users would instantly recognize:

windows 8 charms

…to instant share which I use to quickly share travel itinerary PDFs, photos and such via Tweetro (a Twitter client) or email.

It’s awesome and you just have to go to the right of the screen to activate it.

8. SkyDrive

I have personal experience of having my camera stolen while travelling before – all my photos from the trip were lost! Integration with SkyDrive, especially for my photo backups, is essential to me.

The cloud-connectivity that Skydrive offers is wonderful because I like to travel in places that are not necessarily tourist friendly.

skydrive

I’ve also had my HDD crash two times before – and some of my precious photos were lost forever! Now with SkyDrive, I’ll make it a point to do auto backups when I’m done for the day and leave it uploading while I sleep.

It works beautifully for documents too e.g. the blog posts that I write every day.

You know how important photos are to travellers and bloggers – it’s a pictorial chronological memory for me and I can’t stand losing it.

Now I won’t have to. :)

Do I need Windows RT, Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro?

which windows 8
Here’s a chart to help you decide.

Windows RT
Windows RT is for people who wants a tablet-style easy to use OS where you don’t need new and existing Windows desktop software to work. It’s great with tablets and PCs where you want a user friendly experience – the new Start Screen is where you work from and all apps comes from Windows Store. As an added bonus, it comes with Office Home & Student 2013 Preview!

windows rt

Windows 8
Windows 8 is what most casual users will need – you’ll get all the new features in the Start Screen (actually all of the versions do) but you don’t have to work exclusively with Windows Store apps. The only thing you’ll miss out on is BitLocker. You can still use new and existing Windows desktop software as well as the apps from Windows Store – it’s the best of both worlds!

windows 8 versions

Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Pro is basically Windows 8 for power users or enterprise users. You get all the functionality in Windows 8 (like existing and new Windows Desktop software compatibility) and BitLocker for data protection as well as a host of networking features like Domain Join and Remote Desktop Connection.

windows 8 singapore

Windows 8 special promo info:
If you’ve bought Windows 7 PC from June 2 onwards, you can upgrade to Windows 8 for just USD 14.99 (RM 49.92). Login to www.windowsupgradeoffer.com (yes, this is a real Microsoft link, not some dodgy website) for more details.

Otherwise, if you have a PC and would like to install or upgrade to Windows 8, you can purchase it at USD 39.99 (RM 122). Login to windows.my for more details.

The offers end on 31st January 2013 so get your upgrade today to take advantage of the promo prices! :D

Chicks @ Microsoft Windows 8 Malaysia launch

angry birds troupe

I meant Angry Birds.

hot chick lowyat

Of course, there were models there too. Windows 8 powered devices, not girls, although they had that as well. Heh.

must have left it open

There was this really good group that kicked off the Microsoft Windows 8 launch in Malaysia – they had a very vigorous and visually exciting skit that incorporates elements of classic Windows alerts.

angry birds win

You know, the default sounds it makes during various operation like the distinctive “Ding!” you hear when you’re trying to click somewhere other than a mandatory notification that demands your attention before moving on.

angry birds bunker

It’s all of that combined into a dance and skit routine (which includes the aforementioned Angry Birds parody where they launched chairs into bunkered “pigs”) that made it one of the best launch gimmicks I’ve ever seen!

You’ve gotta watch it!

models

The Microsoft Windows 8 launch was held at Low Yat Plaza on the 29th October.

reps

The Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia – Mr Ananth Lazarus (guy with the blue shirt in the middle) came on stage to describe Windows 8 in detail. I was quite impressed!

camera

There are a lot of features that are in the latest iteration of Windows. I’ve been using it since Windows 3.11 (which had to be booted up from MS-DOS 6.22) and gone through every single update ever since. This is the first time that there was a huge and noticeable difference – Windows 8 has evolved so far from Windows 7 as to be unrecognizable.

devices

There were demonstrations on the new Start Screen, Picture Password, Charms bar and other touch-friendly implementations which most of the new devices were made for.

banter

I’ll personally say that Windows 8 is best experienced with a touch-capable device and all of the new ones coming out have that feature, fitting into every niche and blurring the distinction between smartphones, tablets, notebooks and even smart TV screens!

picture password

Complete social media integration is now done with emphasis on shortcuts and user friendliness. I’ll describe this more in detail in another post, it’s awesome!

local apps

There’s also Live Tiles, which appear on the new Start Screen and updates it constantly so everything can be viewed at a single glance.

detach

However, the Microsoft Windows 8 Malaysia launch is first and foremost to introduce the new concepts and features of the operating system. There were refreshments galore and a chance to play with the new devices.

me windows8

I had my hands on one of them – there are various designs out there, from standard tablets to a more enterprise minded slider design with a physical keyboard. Some of the latter can be even detached into two (!!!), creating two separate and different devices, both capable of running on their own and with dual batteries.

noh nina passion8

Noh (of local band Hujan) and Nina (of Mizz Nina fame) also announced their upcoming show called Passion8 which will be aired on 8TV.

windows8 devices

Congratulations to Microsoft Malaysia for a great launch event for Windows 8! The capabilities of the new OS is really impressive.

windows 8 girls

This isn’t the Windows of old, I can really foresee Windows 8 being the dominant OS in not just traditional PC/notebooks but also tablets, smartphones and other devices which defies categorization, being as unique as they are.

windows 8 malaysia launch

There was food served at the end…

windows 8 doughnut

…which includes donuts with marzipan (I think) Windows 8 logos which are obviously edible. I had two.

windows8 start

I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks – I personally love Windows 8, it’s not just a facelift with minor features but a great new leap forward! :)

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